Blue Bins For The Enhanced Recycling Scheme Purchase Or Lease That is The Question

After doing some further investigation in to the Enhanced Recycling trial we have turned up yet another anomaly with the blue bins that leads us to believe the Elected Members were not furnished with the full facts when scrutinising the results of the Enhanced Recycling trial.

The EMB appear to have nodded the Enhanced Recycling Scheme through at the meeting 3 December 2008 only to have it called in by the Improving Communities Overview & Scrutiny committee on 24 December.

The O&S Committee approved the recycling trail with the following recommendations

  1. that following the train and before consideration of the rolling out of the enhanced recycling scheme, a detailed and evidence based evaluation of the trail be submitted to a future meeting of the committee
  2. that all members are kept informed of the relevant progress, reports and meetings are given formal opportunity to participate and give feedback

On 21 May 2009 the O&S Committee sat and heard the the detailed evidence based evaluation of the trial (all 6 pages of it) from Interim Assistant Chief Executive Mike Maunder and other officers.

that he had concerns with regard to the Executive Summary of the report and questioned whether the recyclable value was being maximised and why we needed to wait until the end of the year in order to ascertain the financial aspects of the scheme as he felt that an independent assessment should be carried out immediately. He felt that the decision to go down this route had been decided before the trial was even undertaken and that, even though there was no going back from this position, he was still not convinced that it was the most appropriate way to deal with the issue. He felt that a number of issues had not been given due consideration such as the cost of kerbside versus co-mingled collection and that no detailed analysis of cost had been undertaken. He asked what independent assessment of the current system had taken place and asked whether it was proposed to have one in the future.

Indicated that details of the savings etc. had been set out in the report which had been considered as part of the call-in. He indicated that it had been understood at the start of the trial that there would be a large take up but what was uncertain was the subsequent level of “tail off” that would occur. At the end of the year it would be possible to give members a better feel for that in terms of the trial areas. In addition, the other uncertainty was regarding the value of recyclables, which had therefore not been incorporated into the budget arrangements.
In response to a previous question about the costs associated with the provision of bins etc., he indicated that this had been part of a leasing arrangement and that it had been clear that as part of this agreement that, if we did not make this provision we would not have been in a position to proceed with enhanced recycling this year. If the trial had not been successful, we would have been able to recover the money for the bins because of the current national demand for them.

Which appears to indicate that he was telling the O&S Committee that the blue bins were leased rather than purchased which is in direct opposition to what Jane Forshaw said in her interview with Pits n Pots and which has been confirmed by the council, that the bins were indeed purchased.

So the question is, were to O&S committee able to make a qualified decision on the Enhanced Recycling trial without being aware of the full facts?

The O&S Committee members at the meeting were:

  • David Conway – Chair
  • Randolph Conteh – Vice Chair
  • Michael Barnes
  • Michael Coleman
  • Rita Dale
  • John Daniels
  • John Davis
  • David Sutton

The WRAP report commissioned in 2007 which was as far as we can tell ignored and not put before the EMB at the time was also mentioned in the meeting by one of the officers present.

In terms of the independent report, the national organisation WRAP had carried out a review.

Image used under license

Ibbs Should Know Better

Dan Barton’s non-attendance of a committee meeting of his council raises a number of questions.

Many may criticise the City Council led by Labour some 10 or 15 years ago, but I can say without question, that a committee or chair at that time would never have accepted such a position. (Sorry Ibbsy)

Can those that remember imagine Gordon Tuck, Phil Bloor or Ted Smith accepting a report to a committee without the author (or their direct line management) present. I can see the table in splinters now. I have seen a committee suspended whilst the Chief Executive has been dragged from his office otherwise the meeting would have not continued until such time as he was present.

It would be unfair (not to mention libellous) to speculate on the reasons for non attendance. But for committees to accept reports without the author sets a very dangerous precedent.

Committees have the power to summon officers to committee within the constitution subject to appropriate notice. Although I have only know this to have been necessary on one other occasion.

All councillors, in particular chairs of committees, must take a consistent stand on this, and I call upon all group leaders to support this action by writing to the Chief Executive to make the position clear. This would strengthen the position of councillors of all political persuasions.

This affects every single councillor and the council’s wafer thin claim to be open and transparent.

Any reports presented to any committee without the author, or their direct line management, or an agreed substitute, should be pulled from the agenda, any actions proposed in the report suspended until the report is properly presented to the committee concerned ““ and the Chief Executive called to the next meeting of said committee with a full explanation.

Community Services budget £2.7million in the red!

By Pits’n’Pots Reporter.

Stoke on Trent City Council are confident that they can regain control of their community services budget despite it going £2.8 million in the red last year.

The council had planned to cut the community services budget by £9.6 million by the year 2011 but after failing to meet it’s own target they have decided to extend the deadline by 12 months.

Their savings budget was not helped last year when it was announced that the £100,000 cut in funding the city farm at the Finny Gardens was dropped. This proposed cut proved to be unpopular and attracted many comments on this site.

Funding and construction delays meant that the £100,000 saving on public toilet provision was not achieved.

Further consultation following a review into park bowling green charges meant that the £103,000 saving was not realised.

There was also an unexpected expense of £450,000 which was put down to higher fuel charges and the credit crunch which also affected the community services budget.

Kieran Clarke

Kieran Clarke

Speaking in today’s Sentinel, Kieran Clarke, the porfolio holder for resources believes that the safest option is to extend the savings target by a further 12 months.

He said: “The great thing about the three-year strategy we use now is that you can plan further ahead and see things coming up a bit sooner.

“There will still be unexpected things that you cannot plan for, but you can look further ahead.

“I am much more confident about the savings proposals that have been put forward this time, and if the new waste recycling strategy goes ahead on time then it will save us £1 million a year to kick-start the process.”

He added: “We are also monitoring things very closely from the start this time to make sure everything goes to plan.”

The improving communities overview and scrutiny committee will meeting next week to discuss the issue. The chair

Dave Conway

Dave Conway

of the committee Cllr Dave Conway said he has doubts and concerns that the situation can be turned around in 12 months. He said: “It has been a while now since the proposed savings were put forward, and I will be asking questions.

“I still haven’t had answers back about the last lot of savings we were supposed to have made and I want to know exactly what is happening now.”